Obviously a lot of positives to take away from the Pittsburgh Steelers' 18-16 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, but it was an ugly win, no doubt about it. The Steelers offense looked like world-beaters - until they got inside the KC 20-yard line. Here’s a quick breakdown of the red-zone failures:
Drive No. 1
First-and-10 at the KC 13: Le’Veon Bell hits for eight yards on a gap-scheme run behind Maurkice Pouncey.
Second-and-2: Ben Roethlisberger checks to a pass vs. a seven-man box from shotgun, but everyone is covered and Roethlisberger dumps it in the dirt at Bell’s feet.
Third-and-2: double slants with a flat concept the innermost slot receiver, Eli Rogers. The Chiefs are in Cover 0 and Ron Parker is able to break on the flat more quickly than if he were playing a deep zone. Parker tackles Rogers as soon as he catches it to hold the receiver to a one-yard gain.
Drive No. 2
First-and-10 at the KC 23: run-pass option with Roethlisberger pulling the ball and throwing behind Jesse James. Looked like he expected the tight end to make a closed middle-of-the-field read and break outside instead of getting vertical.
Second-and-10: Roethlisberger to Rogers for 3 yards on a quick out.
Third-and-7: Roethlisberger overthrows Antonio Brown on a comeback a few yards past the sticks. Terrific route by Brown, clean pocket for Roethlisberger, just a throw you have to make.
Drive No. 3
First-and-10 at the KC 17: Post route to Brown and a great throw by Roethlisberger, but Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters makes a great play to get his arm in between Brown’s, ripping away the football as the receiver comes down. Big-time play.
Second-and-10: Dart scheme run with Marcus Gilbert pulling but the right tackle misses his block and Bell is forced to try and bounce outside. He slips, and Eric Berry comes flying downhill to finish him off for a one-yard loss.
Third-and-11: not where you want to be. Chiefs blitz and Roethlisberger throws wide of Bell out of the backfield. Bell has a case for a hold on Ramik Wilson, but it isn’t egregious.
Drive No. 4
First-and-goal at the KC 5: Roethlisberger checks at the line of scrimmage to a pass, seeing Brown in one-on-one coverage outside. I get wanting to take a shot, but the run game was rolling, with Bell averaging almost six yards a pop, and a back shoulder throw is still a low percentage one in this area of the field. Frank Zombo read it all the way for the Chiefs, getting the deflection to give Eric Berry a diving interception. Not the best decision from Roethlisberger.
Drive No. 5
First-and-10 at the KC 24: pin-and-pull gets Bell a yard.
Second-and-9: Roethlisberger hits Bell on a swing pass in the flat, but Wilson is there to make the stop for a three-yard loss.
Third-and-12: incomplete over the middle to Rogers on a dig. Some contact from behind, but no call.
Drive No. 7
First-and-10 at the KC 25: Chris Jones knocks down Roethlisberger’s pass for Brown at the line of scrimmage.
Second-and-10: draw to Bell only gains a yard as Maurkice Pouncey misses his block on Wilson.
Third-and-9: Roethlisberger tries a screen to Bell, but Dontari Poe and Wilson make great plays to sniff it out.
Drive No. 9
First-and-10 at the KC 21: Bell gets two yards on an inside zone run.
Second-and-8: Roethlisberger misses Rogers down the seam. Rogers did a nice job of creating separation at the top of his route. He was looking inside for the ball, where it should have been, but Roethlisberger threw it high and behind him.
Third-and-8: Coverage sack on third down, as the pocket collapses on Roethlisberger, who didn’t have any great options.
There were a lot of great Chiefs defensive plays, for sure, as they really did some nice things in the red zone, but the Steelers will have to execute far better next week against New England if they want to advance to the Super Bowl.
- During their fourth drive of the game, the Steelers ran a fake bubble sreen (Todd Haley staple play) to Jesse James that netted 26 yards and a first-and-goal. Ben Roethlisberger looked to throw the bubble while James and the slot receiver hustled downfield to block, but when Berry took the bait and flew upfield, Roethlisberger turned and threw over his head to a wide open James, who had slipped behind the secondary. If you recall, Haley called the fake bubble against the Giants during the regular season, getting Landon Collins to bite and hitting Ladarius Green for a wide-open touchdown. Play that has worked for them a lot this season.
- A lot of Steelers fans have been asking who blew the coverage on the play in which Tyreek Hill was running free behind the secondary and Alex Smith missed him. The answer is Sean Davis, which I figured out with a little help from the fine folks at insidethepylon.com. The Steelers are in Cover 2 with some wrinkles I won’t get into here, but Davis either didn’t know the coverage or got suckered in by the smoke screen action near the line of scrimmage. Mike Mitchell yelled at him when he saw Hill blaze by him, then realized he’s gonna have to abandon his post to try and pick up Hill. Rookie mistake by Davis, who made up for it with a terrific pass breakup from his Cover 2 deep zone on the Chiefs' two-point conversion try.
- I still think outside linebacker is the biggest offseason concern on the team, but I’m very encouraged by Bud Dupree’s recent developments as a pass-rusher. The biggest difference has been the angles of his hips and feet when meeting offensive linemen at the top of the arc. Before his hips were always pointed upfield the whole way up the arc, now he’s learning to open to the pocket a little bit sooner to give yourself a softer angle to the quarterback. Combine that with his suddenly active hands, and you have a pass-rusher finally learning to corner.
- I have no analysis on Chris Boswell, other than to say that he’s a beautiful man with the steady (read: bland) personality you want in a kicker. Not too high emotionally, not too low. Matter-of-fact, confident and consistent.null